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Published 25th October 2002

Vol 43 No 21


Soldiers go, plunderers stay

How occupying generals turned into thieves and how private companies helped them

The multi-billion dollar looting of Congo-Kinshasa's resources continues, threatening hopes for peace and economic reconstruction following the withdrawal of Rwandan, Ugandan and Zimbabwean troops. That is the finding of a new United Nations investigation. In the three areas of Congo where Rwandan, Ugandan and Zimbabwean troops were deployed, a self-sustaining war economy has built up, whose fruits finance conflicts and enrich the narrow band of politicians, military officers and business people whom the UN investigators call 'elite networks'. Exploitative businesses have been built up in coordination with the foreign and Congolese military forces, strong enough to survive the departure of the foreign troops. These parasitic businesses drain hundreds of millions of dollars a year from Congo's economy and state coffers. In areas controlled by the Congolese government, at least US$5 bn. of state mining assets have been transferred to private companies controlled by the foreign elites, with no compensation or benefit for Congo's state Treasury since 1999. The UN Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth of the Democratic Republic of Congo estimates the Armée Patriotique Rwandaise has been earning about $320 million a year from commercial operations in eastern Congo (AC Vol 43 No 10). In 33 years in power, Congo's own Mobutu Sese Seko was reckoned to have stolen $5 bn. The Report, released this week, argues that although the regional conflict which drew seven different armies into Congo has diminished, the overlapping micro-conficts that they helped provoke continue (see Box).

Hall of infamy

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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See this article for a list of individuals who are accused in the United Nations Report of the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Mineral Resources and Other Forms of ...

The British connection

Image courtesy of Panos Pictures

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British sanctions policy on Zimbabwe is in disarray after the United Nations Report on the Illegal Exploitation of Mineral Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the Democratic Rep...

Proxy wars and slaughter

The confused killing in eastern Congo involves politics, tribalism and greed

Rwanda and Uganda have pulled out their troops (AC Vol 43 No 19) but the proxy war continues in eastern Congo. On 15 August in Luanda, Uganda agreed with Congo-Kinshasa to withdraw...

At the end of the Rainbow

Ethnically and politically, the Rainbow alliance is multicoloured – but it could still break up

As he heads into the sunset, President Daniel arap Moi has to face the fact that his handpicked successor, Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta (AC Vol 43 No 15), may lose the forthcoming electio...


Intrigue in Beirut

Senegal's ex-President Abdou Diouf struggled to become Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) in Beirut on 20 October.

Augean audit

Plans to audit the shipping registry and timber industry are looking as murky as the subjects themselves. Global Witness has approached the auditors' London office asking to see th...

Jettou set

King Mohammed VI surprised Moroccans on 9 October by naming industrialist-turned-Interior Minister Driss Jettou as his new Prime Minister.